How Well Do You Know English Slang?
"nothing," 1966, from earlier sense of "meaningless speech" (1960), originally Mr. Zilch (1931), comic character in the magazine "Ballyhoo." Perhaps from U.S. college slang (early 1900s) Joe Zilsch "an insignificant person." Probably a nonsense syllable, but Zilch is an actual German surname of Slavic origin.
: York has close to zilch industrynoun
[probably fr zero, and like zip1, primarily a variant coined from a familiar word beginning with z; notice, in this regard, how zilch has become a variant of zit; in British use, but not US, zilch might be reinforced by nil, ''zero''; all senses may derive fr the early 1900s US college use Joe Zilsch, ''any insignificant person,'' popularized during the 1930s by ubiquitous use in the humor magazine Ballyhoo with the spelling Zilch, an actual German surname of Slavic origin]